Eric Deggans

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.

Deggans came to NPR in 2013 from the Tampa Bay Times, where he served a TV/Media Critic and in other roles for nearly 20 years. A journalist for more than 20 years, he is also the author of Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation, a look at how prejudice, racism and sexism fuels some elements of modern media, published in October 2012, by Palgrave Macmillan.

In August 2013, Deggans guest hosted CNN's media analysis show Reliable Sources, joining a select group of journalists and media critics filling in for departed host Howard Kurtz. Earlier in the same month, he was awarded the Florida Press Club's first-ever Diversity award, honoring his coverage of issues involving race and media. He received the Legacy award from the National Association of Black Journalists' A&E Task Force, an honor bestowed to "seasoned A&E journalists who are at the top of their careers." Deggans serves on the board of educators, journalists and media experts who select the George Foster Peabody Awards for excellence in electronic media.

He also has joined a prestigious group of contributors to the first ethics book created in conjunction with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies for journalism's digital age: The New Ethics of Journalism, published in August 2013, by Sage/CQ Press.

Deggans has won reporting and writing awards from the Society for Features Journalism, American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists, The Florida Press Club and the Florida Society of News Editors. In 2010, he made national headlines interviewing former USDA official Shirley Sherrod at the NABJ's summer convention in San Diego, leading a panel discussion that was covered by all the major cable news and network TV morning shows.

Named in 2009, as one of Ebony magazine's "Power 150" – a list of influential black Americans which also included Oprah Winfrey and PBS host Gwen Ifill – Deggans was selected to lecture at Columbia University's prestigious Graduate School of Journalism in 2008 and 2005. He has lectured or taught as an adjunct professor at Loyola University, California State University, Indiana University, University of Tampa, Eckerd College and many other colleges.

His writing has also appeared in the New York Times online, Salon magazine, CNN.com, the Washington Post, Village Voice, VIBE magazine, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Seattle Times, Emmy magazine, Newsmax magazine, Rolling Stone Online and a host of other newspapers across the country.

From 2004 to 2005, Deggans sat on the then-St. Petersburg Times editorial board and wrote bylined opinion columns. From 1997 to 2004, he worked as TV critic for the Times, crafting reviews, news stories and long-range trend pieces on the state of the media industry both locally and nationally. He originally joined the paper as its pop music critic in November 1995. He has worked at the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey and both the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Press newspapers in Pennsylvania.

Now serving as chair of the Media Monitoring Committee for the National Association of Black Journalists, he has also served on the board of directors for the national Television Critics Association and on the board of the Mid-Florida Society of Professional Journalists.

Additionally, he worked as a professional drummer in the 1980s, touring and performing with Motown recording artists The Voyage Band throughout the Midwest and in Osaka, Japan. He continues to perform with area bands and recording artists as a drummer, bassist and vocalist.

Deggans earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and journalism from Indiana University.

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5:55am

Wed July 1, 2015
Television

USA's 'Mr. Robot,' HBO's 'Ballers' Among Picks For Best Summer TV Series

Originally published on Wed July 1, 2015 11:18 am

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (right) stars opposite Rob Corddry in the HBO series Ballers.
Jeff Daly HBO

4:29pm

Mon June 29, 2015
Business

NBC Dumps Donald Trump Over Comments On Mexican Immigrants

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 6:32 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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5:03am

Fri June 19, 2015
Television

Why Isn't The Second Season Of 'True Detective' More Surprising?

Originally published on Fri June 19, 2015 12:53 pm

Rachel McAdams appears with Colin Farrell in HBO's new season of True Detective.
Lacey Terrell HBO

(Be warned: This story has lots of spoiler-ish details about True Detectives' first few new episodes)

As I watched the first three episodes from HBO's new season of True Detective, one thought kept nagging: Why isn't this more, well, surprising?

Consider this scene, featuring Colin Farrell as Ray Velcoro, a police officer whose wife has been beaten and raped. Vince Vaughn is Frank Semyon, a crime boss who slips Farrell's character a picture of the possible culprit.

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2:37pm

Thu June 18, 2015
The Two-Way

4 Ways NBC Might Rehabilitate Brian Williams' Image

Originally published on Thu June 18, 2015 3:54 pm

Brian Williams at an event in New Jersey in 2014.
Julio Cortez AP

NBC has worked out a deal to keep tarnished news anchor Brian Williams at the company, sending him to MSNBC to serve as anchor of breaking news and special reports.

But this brings a new question: How, exactly, can NBC get viewers to trust him again?

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4:30pm

Tue June 16, 2015
Television

Amazon's 'Catastrophe' Isn't One — Unlike Some TV Rom-Coms

Originally published on Tue June 16, 2015 8:06 pm

Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney co-star in the new Amazon romantic comedy, Catastrophe.
Ed Miller Channel 4

Amazon's new romantic comedy Catastrophe begins with a whirlwind tryst that could have been ripped from the latest contemporary romance novel.

Rob is a handsome, witty American advertising executive in London on business. After a chance meeting in a bar, he has an amazing week of romance and sex with a sharp, beautiful Irish schoolteacher named Sharon.

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5:03am

Fri June 12, 2015
Television

A Good But Not Great New Season For Netflix's 'Orange Is The New Black'

Originally published on Fri June 12, 2015 7:33 am

Taylor Schilling, left, with costar Laura Prepon on Netflix's Orange is the New Black.
JOJO WHILDEN Netflix PR

The third season of Orange Is the New Black begins with middle-class slacker-turned-prison inmate Piper Chapman in a pretty dark place.

How can we tell? She's having a casual conversation about suicide with the prison's electrician. And when she suggests using pills instead of car exhaust in a garage, the electrician dismisses her for choosing a way out that's way too expensive.

"I didn't realize that my hypothetical suicide had a budget," Piper says, sarcastically. A moment later, she realizes, "this is not a healthy discussion."

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3:25pm

Thu June 11, 2015
Television

Do Critics Of Violence And Sex In HBO's 'Game Of Thrones' Miss The Point?

Originally published on Fri June 12, 2015 6:12 am

Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) on Game of Thrones.
Helen Sloan HBO

This is dangerous ground for a critic who has seen every episode of HBO's sword and dragon-fueled fantasy drama Game of Thrones but hasn't read one page of the books by George R.R. Martin which inspired the series.

But as the show winds up its fifth season Sunday, I'm beginning to wonder if some of the folks complaining about the extreme violence and controversial sexual content in recent scenes aren't missing the point a bit.

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10:17am

Sun May 31, 2015
Code Switch

Racial Diversity Grows On Network Television, But Will Quality Lag Behind?

Ken Jeong, right, stars in the new ABC series Dr. Ken. Jeong appears with, from left, Kate Simses, Tisha Campbell-Martin and Jonathan Slavin.
Danny Feld ABC

The moment comes a minute or so into the trailer for Dr. Ken, Ken Jeong's new fall comedy for ABC.

He's playing a Korean-American doctor with no bedside manners and a wacky family; not a bad setup for a sitcom that will straddle the work/family setting. Dave Foley, the ex-Newsradio star who plays Jeong's boss, chides his employee for insulting a patient, demanding he apologize.

"And if I don't?" Jeong replies.

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7:31am

Thu May 21, 2015
Television

Letterman Leaves Late-Night TV With A Near-Perfect Final Show

Originally published on Wed May 27, 2015 7:11 am

David Letterman hosts his final Late Show episode on Wednesday.
Jeffrey R. Staab CBS

When the final episode came, after weeks of accolades and tributes to his genius, David Letterman made sure he punctured the emotion of the moment with a little old-fashioned, self-deprecating sarcasm.

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7:31am

Mon May 18, 2015
Television

'Mad Men' Finale: A Love Letter To Fans Filled With Mostly Happy Endings

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 2:01 pm

The cast of Mad Men: January Jones (from left), Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks and John Slattery
Frank Ockenfels 3 AMC

From the beginnings of the Mad Men phenomenon, many of the show's fans wondered if superstar adman Don Draper was destined to write one of the iconic advertising catchphrases of the time.

So it's a testament to the skills of show creator Matthew Weiner that some regular viewers were still surprised by the show's series finale Sunday, which implies that Don invented the classic 1971 Coca-Cola campaign, "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke." This, after he concluded a long, soul-searching trip through America with a trip to a California yoga retreat.

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3:37am

Thu May 14, 2015
Television

David Letterman's Top 10 Late-Night Memories (Well, Not Really)

Originally published on Thu May 14, 2015 5:05 pm

David Letterman, seen here snapping a selfie with his replacement Stephen Colbert, will step down next week as host of the Late Show.
Getty Images

What I first noticed about David Letterman was how quickly he ditched the suit.

During a taping of the Late Show on Monday at the Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan, he put off donning his suit jacket as long as possible, greeting the crowd in just a shirt and tie for a pre-show Q & A session before shrugging on the coat just as recording began.

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3:55pm

Fri May 8, 2015
The Two-Way

ABC Brings Muppets Back To Prime Time As News Emerges About Fall Shows

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 6:21 pm

Kermit the Frog speaks to Gonzo the Great in a scene from ABC's The Muppets.
Eric McCandless ABC

The long wait for Muppets fans is over: ABC is bringing back the beloved puppets in a prime-time TV series this fall for the first time in nearly 20 years.

News of the new show, called The Muppets, dropped this week as TV networks begin calling producers, stars and studio executives in advance of next week's "upfronts" — the annual ritual where broadcasters roll out their fall schedules for advertisers to score advance sales.

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5:28pm

Mon April 27, 2015
Television

Successful Superhero TV Shows Go Beyond Superpowers

Originally published on Mon April 27, 2015 8:14 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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4:39am

Fri April 17, 2015
Television

Clone Drama 'Orphan Black' Returns, As Complex And Complicated As Ever

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 3:25 pm

Tatiana Maslany (center) plays several different clones on the BBC America series Orphan Black.
BBC America

For fans of BBC America's majestically complicated drama Orphan Black, this might be the toughest task they face all year: Explaining to newbies what the heck is going on just before the new season starts on Saturday.

Spoiler alert: Several plot points from the new season are discussed below

The series started with Sarah Manning, a con artist and onetime street urchin, stumbling upon a well-dressed woman who looked exactly like her, crying on a train platform — just before jumping in front of an oncoming train.

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1:18pm

Tue April 14, 2015
Monkey See

The 'Justified' Finale Brings An End To Another TV Western

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 5:30 pm

Timothy Olyphant plays Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens on FX's Justified. The series finale airs tonight.
Prashant Gupta FX

Here's why I'm going to miss FX's modern-day Kentucky Western, Justified, so much.

In last week's episode, our hero, unflinching U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, has ambushed his bitter rival, backwoods Kentucky crime lord Boyd Crowder, shooting at him from across a darkened field on the side of a mountain in hopes of finally putting down the man who is most like his opposite number.

"You've given up everything that you are, so you can murder me," Crowder (Walton Goggins) yells at Givens (Timothy Olyphant) while hunched behind a rock for cover.

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5:37am

Sun April 12, 2015
Television

'Nurse Jackie' Ends As TV's Most Honest Depiction Of Addiction

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 4:46 pm

Edie Falco stars in Showtime's "Nurse Jackie."
David M. Russell Showtime

Even after an accident with a carload full of pills gets her arrested, Nurse Jackie Peyton can't be honest about her addictions. Especially not while explaining her sudden absence to her ex-husband Kevin.

"Where were you this past week?" Kevin asks, tensely.

"Really, you want to know where I was?" Jackie responds. "I went to a detox program."

"Is that what you call jail?" he shoots back. "I was notified of the accident. The car's still in my name."

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8:04am

Fri April 10, 2015
Television

'Game Of Thrones' And 'Veep' Anchor HBO's Killer Sunday Lineup

Originally published on Fri April 10, 2015 8:26 pm

As the new season of Game of Thrones begins, Tyrion Lannister (played by Peter Dinklage) is on the run after killing his manipulative father.
HBO

(Spoiler alert: Details from the new seasons of several shows follow below.)

HBO's hit fantasy drama Game of Thrones ended last year with the most shocking death of the season: Tywin Lannister's.

Lannister, the most influential power broker in the fictional, medieval-style continent of Westeros, was killed by his son, the tortured alcoholic dwarf Tyrion.

When the show returns with a new episode Sunday night, Tyrion is on the run. The man who is helping him, a scheming spymaster named Varys, wants Tyrion's help.

But Tyrion isn't having it.

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5:07am

Fri April 3, 2015
Television

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same As 'Mad Men' Winds Down

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 3:21 pm

The times, they may be changing — but the cast of AMC's Mad Men find it difficult to change with them.
Frank Ockenfels AMC

(Be warned: Some spoilers about Sunday's episode follow.)

If Mad Men has a mission statement, it's probably this: The times may change tremendously, but people rarely do.

Even when they really want to.

Consider the show's lead character, hotshot ad man Don Draper, a cool, in-control success to those who know him the least. As Sunday's episode begins, he is single again, a second marriage left in tatters due to his wandering eye.

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1:53pm

Tue March 24, 2015
Monkey See

James Corden Nods To Talk Show Tradition With CBS's 'Late Late Show'

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 3:44 pm

James Corden (left) talks to Mila Kunis and Tom Hanks on Monday's debut of The Late Late Show with James Corden.
Monty Brinton AP

Looks like it took a 36-year-old comic actor from a small British town no one has heard of to bring back the oldest of old-school American TV talk show traditions.

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11:22am

Wed March 18, 2015
Monkey See

Does Fox's 'Empire' Break Or Bolster Black Stereotypes?

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 7:51 pm

Terrence Howard (center) stars in Empire with (from left): Jussie Smollett, Serayah McNeill, Taraji P. Henson, Bryshere Gray, Grace Gealey, Trai Byers and Kaitlin Doubleday.
Chuck Hodes Fox TV

As its freshman season ends Wednesday night, Fox's hip-hop family drama Empire has emerged as that rarest of birds in the broadcast TV industry: a show where the viewership is always going up.

When the series debuted Jan. 7, it drew a respectable 9.8 million viewers, according to the Nielsen company. But then the show about a family-run music empire achieved something few others have ever managed: It increased its audience every week, growing to 14.9 million viewers on March 4.

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3:04pm

Mon March 16, 2015
Television

Does Success Of HBO's 'The Jinx' Herald New Form Of True-Crime TV?

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 7:25 am

Robert Durst, filmed on the streets of Manhattan for HBO's The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.
HBO

It was the kind of moment true-crime TV fans live for but almost never get to see: a suspected murderer seeming to confess his guilt while the audience listens in.

That bombshell admission aired Sunday at the end of HBO's docu-series The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, capping a six-part series. It unfolded as something of a cat-and-mouse game between Durst, the scion of a wealthy New York family who is suspected of killing his wife, a best friend and a neighbor in separate crimes reaching back to 1982, and filmmaker Andrew Jarecki.

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2:55pm

Tue March 10, 2015
Television

New HBO Now Streaming Service Shows Consumer's Will Is King

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 7:40 pm

Richard Plepler, CEO of HBO, talks about HBO Now during an Apple event Monday in San Francisco.
Eric Risberg AP

There's a lesson at the heart of the announcement Monday by HBO that it was finally starting the standalone video streaming service they have been talking about for five months, HBO Now.

In a media world fragmented by digital technology, the consumer's will is king.

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4:33am

Sat February 28, 2015
Monkey See

Leonard Nimoy's Mr. Spock Taught Us Acceptance Is Highly Logical

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 3:20 pm

Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock in the Star Trek episode "Plato's Stepchildren" in 1968.
CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images

For this Star Trek fan, Leonard Nimoy was more than the guy who played one of the most popular characters in the most popular science-fiction franchise on American TV.

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6:07pm

Fri February 27, 2015
Television

'Battle Creek' An Attempt To Break CBS's Formulaic Lineup

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 8:13 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

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3:39am

Fri February 27, 2015
Television

This Season On 'House Of Cards,' It's Tough To Be The Boss

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 11:13 am

Kevin Spacey's President Frank Underwood is embattled and often frustrated in the third season of Netflix's House of Cards.
David Giesbrecht Courtesy of Netflix

When House of Cards' third season opens, Kevin Spacey's murderous politician Frank Underwood is fooling the world again.

From the very first scene, he's bringing a presidential motorcade to his tiny hometown of Gaffney, S.C., pretending to honor his father's grave for the press.

"Nobody showed up for his funeral except me, not even my mother," Underwood says in one of those sly asides where he speaks directly to the audience. "But I'll tell you this: When they bury me, it won't be in my backyard. And when they pay their respects, they'll have to wait in line."

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1:27pm

Thu February 19, 2015
Monkey See

As CBS' 'Two And A Half Men' Ends, Questions On How It Lasted So Long

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 4:12 pm

Jon Cryer, left, and Ashton Kutcher in a scene from Kutcher's 2011 debut on CBS' "Two and a Half Men."
DANNY FELD ASSOCIATED PRESS

As CBS' Two and a Half Men airs its final episode tonight, capping its 12th season, critics like me are stuck trying to answer a single, niggling question:

How did a show like this end up as the longest-running multicamera comedy in television history?

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4:09pm

Fri February 6, 2015
Television

Missing Your 'Breaking Bad' Fix? 'Better Call Saul' Will Hit The Spot

Originally published on Sat February 7, 2015 2:24 pm

Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman on AMC's "Better Call Saul."
Ursula Coyote AP

Here is something that seems like a spoiler, but really isn't.

The first few minutes of Better Call Saul will answer a question that nagged Breaking Bad fans since the show ended in 2013: Whatever happened to fast-talking lawyer Saul Goodman?

Bob Odenkirk, who plays Goodman, says Better Call Saul had to answer that question first so viewers could focus on the new story.

"To satisfy that a little bit gets that out of the way," he says. "Now let's go and do this journey about who is Saul Goodman, really?"

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5:16pm

Sun February 1, 2015
Code Switch

The Success Of Fox's 'Empire' Reveals A Few Do's And Don'ts For TV

Originally published on Mon February 2, 2015 11:12 am

Taraji P. Henson, left, and Terrence Howard star as Cookie and Lucious Lyon in the Fox TV show Empire.
Chuck Hodes Fox TV

The TV industry is scrambling to understand the runaway success of Fox's Empire, the story of a family-run hip-hop music company that has set ratings records in its four weeks on air.

The questions, as always, are simple: Why are people drawn to this show? And how can a TV network pull it off again?

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4:40pm

Fri January 30, 2015
Sports

NBC Courts Women In Hopes Of Record Super Bowl Broadcast

Originally published on Sat January 31, 2015 9:59 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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5:20pm

Thu January 29, 2015
Television

NBC's 'Parenthood' Ends As A Family Drama Built On Small Moments

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 10:07 am

The stars of Parenthood include, left to right, Erika Christensen Peter Krause, Bonnie Bedelia, Craig T. Nelson, Lauren Graham and Dax Shepard.
NBC Justin Lubin/NBC

It happens at least once every episode: A scene in Parenthood carefully crafted to make you cry.

Like the moment when devoted parents Adam and Kristina Braverman try to console their son Max — who has Asperger's syndrome — after a school camping trip goes bad.

"Why do all the other kids hate me?" Max Braverman asks, voice wavering, just before telling his disbelieving parents a classmate relieved himself in his canteen during the trip. "Asperger's is supposed to make me smart. But if I'm smart then why ... why don't I get why they're laughing at me?"

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